A new week brought new challenges and new excitements.
This week Streetwise Nottingham were invited to take part in the Drivetime Choir at the Royal Concert Hall, to sing opera choruses with the world famous Hallé Orchestra. Cue cries of ‘OMG’, ‘I'm so excited’ and ‘who is this Irish musician Halley O'Kestrel?’!
Great hilarity ensues when we give the group the scores for the pieces. ‘What am I supposed to do with this? This is about as much use to me as a chocolate teapot.’ Time for Plan B - word sheets with appropriate cues.
We are due to sing two numbers – the Anvil Chorus and The Easter Hymn. The Anvil Chorus is a great rousing number; lots of manly calls to arms followed by mysterious gypsy outpourings - perfect for our group! It is also written in unison – as in, we all sing the same tune - which helps. Not the Easter Hymn, however, which has six different parts and about three bars to a page, which means that the music goes by as fast as the tarmac on a Formula One track! So, for one reason or another, rehearsals with the estimable Angela Kay MBE are hilarious, helped in no small measure by her great sense of humour. We sing through a chorus and she says 'that was excellent; now, who got lost?' And everyone puts their hands up.....
However it is amazing what a bit of practice and familiarity can achieve and by the final rehearsal our group was more clued up than a group of girl guides on an orienteering holiday. In the concert hall, the massed choirs are organised into parts - sopranos on the right, altos on the left, basses at the front, tenors behind and Streetwise Nottingham in a special Streetwise row in the middle! Just as well with one of our female members singing bass - and boy did she sing bass and love it!
Come Thursday and the palpable sense of excitement reached a new peak as the orchestra had arrived and we have our half hour rehearsal with the Hallé. The orchestra were amazing and the group were on cloud nine - massive smiles on everyone's faces. Everyone’s game was lifted and many of the group were carried along by the sheer sound. One member said ‘I was really nervous, especially as people were looking at me. However, when the orchestra played and I started singing, all the fear went away and it really gave me a lift.’ The rehearsal was taken by the frighteningly young conductor and it was amazing how quickly it all came together, especially since he had to conduct in 360 degrees with choirs all around him. The Easter Hymn was splendid and at the end of the huge final chord someone, who shall remain nameless, let out an equally massive squeal unable to keep a lid on the excitement.
The concert was a resounding success. The orchestra played a great variety of pieces, including Star Wars, La Forza Del Destino, Pirates of The Caribbean and Elgar’s Nimrod. It was the first time many of our group had heard a live full orchestra and they were clearly enthralled, entranced and enthused in equal measure. But the highlight was the choruses and the sheer thrill of being amongst 500 people singing wholeheartedly as one. An experience many will never forget and one which all are certainly looking forward to repeating next year.